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February 13, 2018



4,650 schools in Sindh selected for upgrades, expansion

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah on Monday said the provincial government would soon undertake a massive project to rehabilitate and expand 4,650 schools that have been specifically selected for their high enrolment rates.

The schools would be renovated and upgrades would include provision of all missing facilities, the CM said in a meeting with a high-level World Bank delegation led by its country director, Patchamuthu Illangovan. The meeting participants also discussed the outcomes of the Sindh Education Reforms Programme 2014-18.

“Today, we are in the era of a fourth industrial revolution. Many of the major drivers of transformation currently affect global industries and are expected to have a significant impact on jobs, ranging from job displacement from heightened labour productivity to widening skills gaps,” said Shah.

“To prevent a worst-case scenario — technological change accompanied by talent shortages, mass unemployment and growing inequality — re-skilling and ‘upskilling’ of workers will be critical,” he said.

“At the government level, technology could be continuously leveraged to upskill and re-skill employees. As I took office, I declared an education emergency,” he said and added his government was taking actions to improve the education sector through a three-pronged strategy, which, according him, were: addressing education access and infrastructure gaps by improving financial allocations; addressing quality of education by improving human resource in schools by competitive test-based recruitment of teachers; and head masters and regularly assessing children's learning outcomes.

The CM said he was planning to undertake a massive rehabilitation and expansion of schools with a high enrolment rate. In this regard, he said a plan had been devised to equip the selected schools with quality teachers and head teachers.

Another 554 schools had been selected for upgradation to elementary level on the basis of a strict criterion, he added. “We are increasingly focusing on a strategy whereby we can ensure progression of students beyond Grade 5 and ensure secondary education,” he said. “We plan to adequately equip all post primary schools with science labs and ICT [Information and Communications Technology] labs to bring in facilities which can gradually help us strengthen students learning outcomes.”

Shah added: “We still have huge challenges with a large number of out-of-school children and unemployed youth. It is very important for the government, the development partners and the civil society to synergise resources and efforts to tackle this challenge.

He thanked the World Bank for its financial and technical support in the education and skills sectors. Talking about the early childhood, he said, “We have recently finalised a mega intervention with the assistance of the Bank, namely ‘The Sindh Nutrition Programme’ that involves multisectoral interventions to improve nutrition levels in mothers and children and to gradually contain stunting.”

Talking about the education sector, he said: “We have finalised an ‘Early Childhood’ policy that first of all recognises and enrols students in KG Grades and the EC curriculum is also under finalisation.”

He said the disadvantaged and marginalised segments of society in Sindh owed a great responsibility to all of the citizens which was the availability of food and access to nutrient food which was substantially unaffordable to this segment of society.

Talking about the education of girls, he said: “We fully realise the critical importance of educating the girls. We understand that the girls’ education would provide many benefits in terms of overall socio- economic development of the country. It helps in raising per capita income and it helps raise family incomes and wellbeing as girls become equipped to enter the job market.

The chief minister also said that presently 14 schools had been outsourced. “Their operation is being made by partners while the provincial government bears all expenditures, including salaries of teaching and non-teaching staff, electricity bills and maintenance.” He added that 200 more schools were to be given under private management.

The WB country director appreciated the efforts of the chief minister and lauded his initiative of operating schools under the public-private partnership (PPP) mode. He assured the chief minister of his full support for the purpose.

The WB delegation comprised senior director Dr Jaime Saavedra, South Asia practice manager education Keiko Miwa, programme leader human development Cristina Isabel Panasco Santos, South Asia lead education economist Tazeen Fasih, senior education specialist Umbreen Arif, senior economist Shinsaku Nomura, research analyst Marcela Gutierrez, and communication specialist Mehreen Saeed.

The chief minister was assisted by education minister Jam Mehtab Dahar, planning and development (P&D) chairman Mohammad Waseem, principal secretary to CM Sohail rajput, education secretary (schools) Iqbal Durani, and Sindh Education Foundation managing director Naheed Shah Durrani.